Marketing to Vulnerable Populations & The POSMarketer

 

Emotions, Conversions.pngMarketing – it’s everywhere! Advertisements and sales pitches surround us like birdsong in the forest. In general, people have come to ignore ads and some can’t even see them, becoming “ad-blind.”

So it’s no surprise that Waze has snappily announced the launch of special geo-targeted ads that will pop up inside it’s mobile-navigation app, as potential customers drive by determined locations. The possibility to convert users of the app is too good to pass up – What could possibly go wrong? marketing, advertising, social media marketing, emotional intelligence, POSMarketing, distracted driving, WAZE

Erika Lehmkhul is a Visual Designer with Waze, and she suggests that the success of an ad on their platform lies in its creativity, and the clarity of its design. Opting for the simplistic look of billboards, Waze suggests to advertisers that they keep it simple – “When you eliminate clutter and distracting elements, your ad can shine.”

What a load of dangerous bullshit.

US traffic deaths are on the rise for the second straight year, and along with high speeds, no seatbelts, and driver impairment, distracted driving is quickly becoming the main reason for accidents and fatalities on the road.

“It’s not just talking on the phone that’s a problem today,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “You now have all these other apps that people can use on their phones.” 

  • Surely, Waze knows that in a growing number of states, its illegal to use a handheld GPS device in a car.
  • Surely, they must also be aware that every year, about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that have involved a driver who was distracted, and the alarming increase in distracted driving fatalities in 2017 alone.
  • Surely, Waze is using it’s influence as one of the most downloaded navigation apps in a grand attempt to address the dangerous vulnerabilities of cellphone addiction, which is at epidemic levels amongst all drivers.
  • Surely they know that pop-up ads on a navigation app would be distracting. And surely they know that we are all vulnerable to the random notifications we get from our phones. And they have to know that distractions in a car usually end like this. . .

(Photo by Steve Nehf/The Denver Post)

Marketers traditionally take pause when advertising to kids, the elderly, or anyone not able to cognitively understand the underlying purpose of an ad. These populations are considered to be “vulnerable.” The audience behind the wheel of a car is certainly not able to cognitively engage with advertisements, and they should be classified as a vulnerable population.

According to “Marketing Ethics,” by George Brenkert, “Marketing directed towards vulnerable populations should be aimed at lessening or removing the vulnerabilities, not self-profits.”   

Waze has yet to address its role in distracted driving and the accidents, near-misses and fatalities associated with this epidemic. Neither Waze, nor its parent company Google, have any initiatives or safety campaigns to educate the public on distracted driving or cellphone addiction. And, with a recent partnership with Spotify, which allows use of both the Waze and Spotify apps AT THE SAME TIME WHILE DRIVING, Waze demonstrates that generating ad-revenue from its 50 million-deep user-base is the only topic they consider valuable. And why not, that’s how you make money!

But imagine what they could do if they launched a nationwide campaign to end distracted driving, if they developed proprietary safety features that made using the app less dangerous, launched events to educate new drivers on the dangers of distraction, provided online resources on safety behind the wheel and partnered with National Highway Traffic Safety to engineer distraction proof roadways and intersections in towns across America. If they did that, what’s the worse that could happen?

Bottom line – Waze pushing distracting ads to cellphones inside a moving car is a blatant disregard for safety, its unethical, its a manipulative marketing move to grab cash out of eyeballs that might soon fly through a windshield, and its a classic example of some POSMarketing.

For more insights on ethics, marketing, and POS – Follow me on twitter – @POSMarketer 

 

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